There's no need to overcomplicate a Meat and Cheese Tray. With a simple assortment of meats, cheeses, and crackers you can assemble a platter that'll wow the crowd without breaking the bank. Here are our best tips for picking out budget-friendly meats and cheeses for an impressive, no-cook appetizer you can swing in less than 15 minutes!
Today, we will be focusing on a Meat and Cheese Tray that's perfect for casual entertaining: BBQs, holiday potlucks, and Game Day Parties. If you're looking for more yummy additions to add to your party lineup, check out our addictively delicious Texas Trash Party Mix recipe!
CHEESES TO USE
When assembling a Meat and Cheese Tray, it is customary to choose three types of cheeses for your platter. However, rather than sticking to rigid cheese platter laws that require selections of cheeses with different textures (firm, semi-firm, soft, etc...) or different milk sources ( e.g. goat, cow or sheep), we suggest sticking with a trio of cheeses you know your guests will enjoy.
- Colby Jack
- Smoked Gouda
- Monterrey Jack
- Pepper Jack
Cheddar is a super versatile cheese that pairs well with both smoked meats and most deli meats. Colby Jack is a touch milder in flavor than a Cheddar, making this a nice, neutral choice for a casual crowd, and especially the kiddos.
Feel free to throw in at least one somewhat different, somewhat exciting cheese on a platter. Smoked Gouda and Pepper Jack have a fair amount of oomph to them, without being too overpowering.
SLICE THE CHEESE
So there we have it. Three kinds of cheeses ready for plating…almost. Although visually stunning, cheese left whole and uncut on the platter is far more likely not to get eaten, and ultimately becomes a waste. Help your guests out by slicing the cheese into fairly thick bite-sized pieces for your guests, and allow for 2-3 nibbles per slice.
THE BEST MEATS FOR A MEAT AND CHEESE TRAY
- Black Forest Ham
- Smoked Turkey
- Deli Roast Beef
- Summer Sausage
- Peppered Salami
Onto the meats. Summer sausage and peppered salami are great choices for your platter, as these cured meats will pair wonderfully with the cheeses above and are overall crowd-pleasers. Make sure to slice sausages thin, as they can be fairly chewy.
For a more budget-friendly selection, consider deli meats such as Black Forest Ham, Smoked Turkey or Roast Beef. Have the delicatessen slice the meats at a "2" so they're just right for rolling.
DON'T FORGET THE CRACKERS
- Stone Wheat Crackers
- Water Crackers
- Ritz Crackers
- Club Crackers
Everybody loves a little variety. Use an assortment of your favorite crackers to fill the platter.
When it comes to meat and cheese tray, we tend to lean toward crackers that don't boast too much of their own flavor, allowing the flavor of the meats and cheese to shine through. Go for Saltines, Stone Wheat Crackers, or water crackers.
EXTRAS FOR YOUR PARTY PLATTER
To make your Meat and Cheese Tray extra special, serve up a dip/spread and pickled relishes alongside it.
DIPS AND SPREADS
A nice strong mustard blend pairs particularly well with fatty meats like summer sausage and salami. To make it, simply mix together 3 tbsp Dijon Mustard and 3 tbsp Whole Grain Mustard. And, voila! That’s it! It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Another nice addition, that pairs very well with the cheeses listed above is red pepper jelly. Serve it alongside crackers, and encourage your guests to try something new by topping their crackers with a slice of cheese and a tiny dollop of jelly.
Want to get a little "extra"? You can really take your platter to the next level by serving a Homemade Pimento Cheese alongside it.
ADD SOMETHING PICKLED
One last addition you might consider is a pickled element such as tiny dill pickles, pickled okra or pitted olives.
If you love this idea, you definitely need to check out our Southern Appetizer Board as well!
HOW TO ARRANGE A MEAT AND CHEESE TRAY
- Start with the bulkiest items first. If you are using pickled relishes on the platter, this could be a small bowl of pickles or olives.
- Place the cheeses on the platter. If possible, try keeping them in their original shape for a little "wow" factor.
- Next, add the meats around the cheeses. If using sliced sausages, arrange them in a fish scale pattern opposite. If using deli meats, roll each slice up tightly and stack them.
- Lastly, use the crackers to fill in any gaps.
5 MORE NO-COOK APPETIZERS YOU'LL LOVE!
- Texas Caviar is a colorful and zesty make-ahead party dip loaded with fresh summer vegetables and hearty black-eyed peas. This light and healthy appetizer is perfect for any spring or summer gathering, and can be served with tortilla chips or as a topper for grilled protein!
- Mexican Layer Dip features layer-upon-layer of savory goodness like bean dip, guacamole, sour cream and more!
- Marshmallow Fruit Dip is creamy, light, and fluffy, but best of all, consists of only 3 ingredients and comes together in about 3 minutes flat! And, let’s face it: Fruit is just better when there are marshmallows involved.
- Dill Dip is a classic party dip everyone loves! It’s fresh, tangy and full of flavor thanks to the simple additions of spices and herbs.
- Cherry Cheesecake Dip is an easy, no-bake cheesecake dessert is made simple with a cream cheese base and a canned cherry pie filling. It is addictively delicious and sure to keep guests coming back for more!
A combination of cheeses, meats, and accouterments perfect for entertaining!
- 8 ounces Cheddar Cheese
- 8 ounces Smoked Gouda Cheese
- 8 ounces Colby Jack Cheese
- 8 ounces Deli Ham, Turkey, or Roast Beef
- 8 ounces Peppered Salami, Summer Sausage, or Soppressata
- 1 sleeve Wheat Crackers or Water Crackers
- 1 sleeve Saltine or Butter Crackers
- 1 cup Pickled Okra
- ½ cup Red Pepper Jelly or Mustard Blend
Start with the bulkiest items first. If you are using pickled relishes on the Meat and Cheese Tray, this could be a small bowl of pickles or olives.
Place the cheeses on the platter.
Add the meats around the cheeses. If using sliced sausages, arrange them in a fish scale pattern opposite. For deli meats, roll each slice up tightly and stack them.
Use the crackers to fill in any gaps.